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Why an online PR agency is vital in 2022

It's not that long since "online" was considered an add-on for PR agencies.

It's not that long since "online" was considered an add-on for PR agencies.When does a PR agency become an online PR agency? Is there any difference any more?

It's not that long since "online" was considered an add-on for PR agencies.

Success metrics still revolved around the idea that a client's coverage could, quite literally, be measured with a ruler.

Column inches - the amount of space a piece of coverage took up - were used to generate a highly unscientific value that was mainly designed to wow the client and convince them their investment had been well spent.

Things are a lot more sophisticated these days, although the debate about how to measure PR continues to rage within the industry.

But the more a PR agency has managed to place itself at the centre of a client's online and digital activities, the more it has managed to justify itself.

Sarah Twyman, Client Services Director at Smoking Gun PR in Manchester, agrees.

"One of the best things about digital PR is that it's entirely measurable," she says. "An agency can track the performance of your digital PR campaign really effectively with a whole host of tools like Google Analytics or SEMRush - helping to reliably measure success and justify marketing spend in a more effective way."

Manchester agency Smoking Gun was recently appointed by drinks brand Old J Spiced Rum

So what does an online PR agency actually do nowadays?

"The point of digital PR is to increase your visibility online and drive link acquisition," adds Twyman.

"Helping your target consumers easily find you online is now more important than ever. Expanding your brand’s online presence is a no-brainer, and if you’re not already doing it, you can bet your biggest competitor is. And with our shopping habits forever changed by the pandemic, the number of people shopping, researching products, services or brands online continues to surge - so it’s essential to be seen.

"But that’s not all. Digital PR naturally drives awareness through media placements, but it also helps with your brand's SEO, bolstering keyword rankings - and will give you valuable links to your website that are often featured within the high domain authority news articles."

Carrie Rose, CEO and co-founder of fast-growing Sheffield-based online PR agency Rise at Seven, says an agency is an integral part of keeping a brand in the news in the social media age.

"One of our clients actually noted that when they work with us ‘it feels like you’re trending 24/7’ - and that’s what we have built our business around," she says.

"From reactive to campaigns, agencies can provide ideas and creativity when a business just doesn’t have the time. Our agency helps brands rank for relevant keywords and terms but also drives people to want to search with data and creative-led campaigns.

"These gain press attention by which secures positive media coverage in online publications, which in turn can introduce a brand to more of their target audience and drive relevant traffic through to product or target pages, leading to potential conversions, sign-ups, or other goals set."

Carrie Rose, from Sheffield agency Rise at Seven, with co-founder Stephen Kenwright

Does it all just come down to links and metrics then? Not a bit of it, says Rose - creative is still key.

"Using a PR agency can help with improving awareness of a brand and driving SEO results, but it doesn’t have to end at technical SEO, content or links.

"Brand is a huge part of our industry now and actually why Rise at Seven does so well, we incorporate campaigns across multi-channel - considering SEO, social, and brand relevancy. Having an online PR agency is ultimately needed for most brands, but you’re more likely to be successful if you have one that is bringing creative and SEO together."

It's a sentiment agreed with by Ryan Ogilvie, Head of SEO at Newcastle-based Evolved Search.

To him, online PR is an essential part of the SEO mix.

"Success in SEO is like enjoying the perfect meal in a restaurant," he says. "All of the ingredients have to be working together for you to get the most out of it.

"With SEO, digital PR is essential in the recipe for organic success. It works in harmony with having a technically sound website, great content and having a strong brand.

"In short, digital PR is an essential part of any successful SEO campaign and you'd be hard-pressed to find many brands who dominate in search that aren't doing it."

More: Why B2B PR agencies are different